Stand-Your-Ground Repeal Fails in Florida



November 8, 2013; Ocala Star Banner

Given all the coverage the NPQ Newswire has devoted to the issue of “stand your ground” legislation, including not only SYG dimensions of the killing of Trayvon Martin , but also the more recent killing of Jordan Davis and the recent hearing on the subject convened by Senator Dick Durbin, it is worth noting that a bill to repeal Florida’s stand your ground statute was defeated in an 11-2 vote by the Florida House Criminal Justice Subcommittee. Writing for the Florida News Service, Margie Menzel quotes Florida state representative Jimmie Smith (R-Inverness) to say, “We stand and defend what is ours…‘Stand your ground’ is core to our American way of life.”

The Florida committee heard lengthy testimony, according to Menzel, evenly divided for and against the repeal legislation. Menzel cited Phillip Agnew of the Dream Defenders, who the NPQ Newswire has cited for his role in the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington and other events, and others who indicated that the stand-your-ground statute makes blacks in the state subject to fear that they could be shot by anyone—for example, an overly aggressive neighborhood vigilante like Zimmerman or an irritated driver like Dunn or anyone who thinks that blacks pose some sort of physical threat to them.

The sponsor of the repeal bill, Alan Williams, a Democratic member of the lower house from Tallahassee, was able to garner no support from other Democratic state legislators as cosponsors. Only two members of the committee, representatives Randolph Bracy (D-Orlando) and Kionne McGhee (D-Miami), both black men, voted for the repeal legislation. The opposition to the repeal legislation was loud, vocal, and bipartisan. The support for the bill was male and black. The racial divide around stand-your-ground laws is becoming more overt all the time.—Rick Cohen


  • Alan Srout

    The problem has been the focus on irrelevant arguments – some of which are actually unsupported by the evidence.

    1. ‘George Zimmerman (GZ) racially profiled Trayvon Martin (TM)’ There is no evidence of this.

    2. ‘GZ disobeyed an order by the police’ * The civilian dispatcher, Sean Noffke, testified that he did not give GZ an order and, in fact, he, like his fellow dispatchers, are trained not make comments that sound like commands. * Noffke also testified under cross that, as a result of his asking GZ which way TM was going, GZ could have reasonably interpreted this as being asked to follow Martin. * It is also not a crime in Florida to disregard a comment made by a civilian dispatcher.

    3. ‘GZ got out of his car’ Not a crime on public property and not negligent either.

    4. ‘GZ followed TM’ Again, anyone can follow anyone on a public street unless the followee has obtained a restraining order against the follower and even there, the RS only places time, place, and manner restrictions on the person enjoined.

    5. ‘GZ wasn’t really injured’ * Under Florida’s self-defense laws, one doesn’t have to be injured AT ALL to use deadly force * No one is required to refrain from defending himself while another is engaged in or attempting to commit a felony.

    6. ‘TM is dead through no fault of his own’ * If you believe that TM assaulted GZ, then he IS dead as a result of his own actions.

    7. ‘GZ could have left’ * Under Florida law, there is not a duty to withdraw rather than use deadly force * TM was straddling GZ so how the latter was supposed to leave the scene is unanswered.

    8. ‘GZ was armed and TM wasn’t’ * One’s fists can be considered weapons and can result in severe bodily harm or death. * GZ was legally carrying a weapon * There is no requirement under the law that the same weapon be used by the assailant * A homeowner can kill an intruder whether or not he has been threatened * Those that attack cannot feign surprise if they are met with superior firepower.

    9. ‘Stand Your Ground!’ * SYG is NOT at issue in this trial. * The defense is a classic self-defense case.

    10. ‘Black men NEVER get to use SYG!’ * Wrong

    11. ‘GZ is a man and TM was a boy!’ * As if ‘boys’ don’t commit murder, rape, and assault everyday in this country.